Read More: Extreme Marriage Experiment Suggests It’s Better to Be Right Than Happy While most married couples still have similar education levels, that percentage too is dropping. “Adults with high school or less education are much less likely to marry,” writes Pew researcher Wendy Wang, who authored the new report.
About 12% of marriages are made up of couples with some college education.
Read More: Why a Little Less Marriage May Be a Good Thing Many experts have weighed in on why why marriage has fallen out of favor among the less educated.
One of the reasons seems to be that marriage, which used to be like the draft—more or less mandatory—is now more like voting: people aren’t quite sure what’s in it for them.
For the first time in 50 years, the educational balance among married couples has tipped towards women.
Wives are more likely to be the better educated partner than the other way around.
The trend is particularly sharp among newlyweds; in 2012 almost 40% of college educated women were married to a guy without a degree.
This is a big reversal from the 30 year trend between 19, when it was the men who were marrying down, educationally speaking.
The difference is not yet huge; Pew researchers, using data from the American Community Survey and the Decennial Census, found that in 2012, 21% of wives had advanced further academically than their spouses, while 20% of husbands were the more educated ones.
But it appears to be growing; counting just newlyweds (those married in the 12 months before the survey), more than a quarter of the women had chosen a partner with less education, while 15% of men did the same.
The trend is not necessarily due to the fact that women are smarter than men.
More women than men have been graduating from college at all levels—bachelors, masters and doctoral—for several years, so it was simply a matter of time until the marriage pool reflected that. This is despite the increasing tendency of college graduates to marry each other.